PHOTO CALL: Kids Flock to Into the Woods' First-Act-Only Family Performance
By Matthew Blank
The Public Theater presented a special family-friendly Aug. 22 Shakespeare in the Park matinee performance of Into the Woods, where only the "happily ever after" first act of the Tony-winning fairytale musical was performed in a 95-minute presentation at the Delacorte Theater.
Into the Woods, a collision of several fairytales including Cinderella, Little Red Ridinghood, Rapunzel and Jack and the Beanstalk, ends its first act as each character gets his or her wish. The second act, which was not performed during the matinee, explores the shadows of wishes granted and the cost of chasing those desires.
The free 3 PM matinee allowed families the chance to enjoy the new production of the Stephen Sondheim-James Lapine musical that began previews July 24 and officially opened Aug. 9 for an extended run through Sept. 1 as part of the Public's Shakespeare in the Park programming.
The Public promised a "family friendly" performance in this production of the adult fairytale musical that incorporates a more carnal encounter between Little Red Ridinghood and the Wolf.
The engagement is based on the 2010 Regent's Park Open Air Theatre London staging. The Public Theater enlisted original London co-directors Timothy Sheader and Liam Steel to re-explore the production in a fresh incarnation for Shakespeare in the Park.
A limited number of tickets are available through a stand-by line at the Delacorte Aug. 22. Tickets for the matinee have been distributed primarily through the Public's free virtual ticketing lottery, which was opened to the public Aug. 15.
"The Public wants to make great theatre accessible to all, and young people, with their parents, deserve an invitation to be a part of the story," Public Theater artistic director Oskar Eustis said in a statement. "This will be a great and rare opportunity. One we hope is just a beginning."
The musical has a Tony-winning score by Stephen Sondheim and a Tony-winning book by James Lapine, who also staged both Broadway productions of the musical.
The Delacorte Theater, nestled within Central Park, makes an ideal setting for the fairytale musical, with views of Belvedere Castle visible across a lake just beyond the stage. The set, a collaboration between original Open Air Theatre designer Soutra Gilmour and Tony winner John Lee Beatty, rises over 50 feet in the air, with a series of tree-covered catwalks and pathways.
The Public cast is led by original 1987 Broadway Into the Woods cast member Chip Zien as the Mysterious Man, with Tony Award winner Donna Murphy (Passion, Wonderful Town) as the Witch, Tony Award winner Denis O'Hare (Take Me Out, Assassins) as the Baker, Academy Award nominee Amy Adams ("Enchanted," "The Fighter") as the Baker's Wife, Tony nominee Jessie Mueller (On a Clear Day...) as Cinderella and Tony Award winner Glenn Close (Sunset Boulevard, Death and the Maiden, "Damages," "Fatal Attraction") as the prerecorded voice of the Giant.
Completing the company are Jack Broderick (Narrator), Gideon Glick (Jack), Cooper Grodin (Rapunzel's Prince), Ivan Hernandez (Cinderella's Prince/Wolf), Tina Johnson (Granny), Josh Lamon (Steward), Laura Shoop (Cinderella's Mother), Tess Soltau (Rapunzel), Sarah Stiles (Vanities) as Little Red Ridinghood, Kristine Zbornik (A Catered Affair) as Jack's Mother, Ellen Harvey (How to Succeed...) as Cinderella’s Stepmother, and Bethany Moore (Spider-Man) and Jennifer Rias (Rock of Ages) as the Stepsisters.
Ensemble members include Victoria Cook, Johnny Newcomb, Noah Radcliffe and Eric R. Williams.
The Into the Woods creative team also includes costume design by Emily Rebholz; movement direction by Liam Steel; sound design by Acme Sound Partners; orchestrations by Jonathan Tunick; and musical direction by Paul Gemignani.
Here's how The Public characterizes the show: "In Into the Woods, a witch's curse condemns the Baker and his Wife to a life without children. They embark on a quest to find the four items required to break the spell: the cow as white as milk, the cape as red as blood, the hair as yellow as corn, and the slipper as pure as gold. Will they succeed? And what happens after 'happily ever after?' A Tony Award-winning masterpiece by musical theatre giants Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine, Into the Woods is a witty and irreverent reimagining of beloved classic fairytales: Jack and the Beanstalk, Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel and Cinderella."
The Delacorte Theater in Central Park is accessible by entering at 81st Street and Central Park West or at 79th Street and Fifth Avenue.
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